That's when it strikes him. He's under the skeleton of a gigantic bird-like creature.

He should ask the woman about his whereabouts. Never once has he read, or acknowledged, that there's such a site made of a bird's remnants.

But then again, his life has thrown lots of silliness and bizarre theories to his face within this week only. To bear knowing several more won't hurt.

Raiden flexes his fingers before pouring a cup of chamomile tea for himself. The soothing scent fills his insides with calmness. His tongue, though finding itself burned by its warmth, is still grateful for such a calmer.

"Drink up. You'll need a lot of that." And when the woman makes her return, Raiden doesn't have a complaint in store. Neither when she grabs a sack full of leaves for herself and scatters them on the ground for her to sit on.

"Where are we?" He asks for the second time in a flatter tone than before. He removes the accusations from his eyes, fearing it'll trigger the passive woman.

"I answered it already."

"I need a more detailed answer...hey, I haven't known your name-"

"Trixy." Raiden expects her to remove her mask, but shortly before that happens, she entwines her fingers together and puts them on her knees. She still wears the same attire from the dawn. Tobacco is still strongly affecting her speech.

"Yes, Trixy." His tongue curls in shame at mentioning this woman's name. It's foreign, and he dreads for a correction of his pronunciation. "So, where is your home?"

She points to a two-storied hut in the distance, painted with peeled gray and exists on a land full of weeds, wheat, and such herbs. Those plants are like shielding her home from strangers, who can immediately back off at the sight of the abandoned settlement.

"This creature's name was Minokawa. It's known to be a god's transport on his descend to earth." Memories of the past seem to lurk around her head as she stares blankly at the ribs above. "This was where I found its skeleton."

She delivers him three books, each has lost their glorious appearances, bearing only brown pages and a hill of dust. With thickness equalizing an English dictionary, they successfully intimidate Raiden's hate-relationship with literary books.

"Here, you'll find the answers to your questions. Regarding your sister's onyx," a lump weighs on Raiden's middle, constricting his gulping, "this bird's whereabouts, where we currently are, and the mysterious dark plague haunting your city."

She won't leave him alone, accompanied by these journals of the past, won't she?

"I'll be back before the sunset. Don't try to enter my home once. This settlement has everything you need there." She nods her head to a wooden cabinet, ancient-looking and fragile. "And there." The crowd of sacks becomes her aim.

"But where are you going?" Raiden's yet to absorb her previous sentence before blurting out. The thought of him being here alone, in the middle of a strange environment, without knowledge of the world terrifies him.

What if Ece appears? Or that perfume-man? Or those creatures back at the canyons, rattling the bones like they're merely sticks?

Now that he has a clearer memory than before, those people back at the canyon resemble the skinny pair back at the shelter, who froze like figurines when Ece lost her consciousness.

Are those two also products of the combination between Ece's and the onyx's greed?

"Back to the city. Spying. Finding out what has happened since I extradited you from that shelter."

"But, what if someone comes—"

"There won't be anyone. Then you should start with this book," she picks up the topmost book on the stack, with the scrawls of 'Surroundings' as its title, "and you'll know why I banned you from entering the hut."

With that, she lifts herself off the ground, puts on her shabby boots, tucks the feathers back to their respective places—on her belled hat, and doing a blatant job at abandoning his growing dread.

The sound of her soles clashing against the soil is like a death omen to his ears.

Before exiting herself wholly out of the skeleton through a crevice which looks like a beak, she pauses, tilting her head backward to meet Raiden's gawk. "Don't do anything stupid and stay inside."

What's the best view one can see after gaining one's fainting consciousness? It certainly isn't the sight of a massive creature's skeleton. Nor is waking up atop a pile of leaves.

How Raiden wishes his consciousness can drift away for a while. That way, there won't be any needs to read these books, or needs to block his anxiety at being stranded far from his comfort zone.

He's far away from home.

SinisterRead this story for FREE!